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updated 07/24/1995 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/24/1995 AT 01:00 AM EDT

AS HBO'S THE LARRY SANDERS SHOW begins its fourth season this week (Wednesday, July 19), it's time to ponder why this series about a faux talk show host (played by Garry Shandiing) remains the smartest—and most satisfying—on TV Here (to borrow from one of Sanders' real-life competitors) are the Top Five Reasons:

5. The guest stars are funnier here than they are on Leno or Letterman. In the season opener, for example, Roseanne returns as Larry's ex-love interest, who has to get booked on his show just to speak to him.

4. And they're a choicer bunch. "Thankfully," Shandiing says, "we don't have as much trouble booking this show as they do on a real talk show. So far we've already got Vendela, Ryan O'Neal, Sandra Bernhard, David Duchovny, Dana Carvey and Rob Lowe."

3. The show comes on at 10:30 p.m. ET, which means you can watch Sanders and still get to bed at a decent hour.

2. There are no wisecracking kids, wacky neighbors, theme songs written by Alan Thicke or loyal pets—unless you count Larry's whiny but still loyal sidekick Hank "Hey now!" Kingsley (played by Jeffrey Tambor).

1. Sanders has classier O.J. jokes. In the opener, as the staff takes time out to watch the Trial of the Century, Larry is reminded that he once bumped Simpson for Murphy Brown's Faith Ford. Responds Sanders testily: "Who knew he was gonna get this hot?"

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